Monday, March 9, 2009

New Orleans 4.7.94: Still Bayous and Dark Coffee

Steve and I up early to walk along the bayou (St. John) and in City Park. I feel some spiritual depth calling to me here, these days. The bayou focuses that call, as it often did for me when we lived in New Orleans, and I wrote poems in my head as we walked on its banks. Followed by coffee at Café du Monde, in that still, cool time around dawn before it’s tourist-crowded.

But times away from home, like this teaching stint in New Orleans, draw out the worst between Steve and me—naked cor ad cor loquitur, and one cannot predict what will happen. The sameness of it all is so boring, so maddening—he says, I say, we say, like some rote chant. That book title, The Dance of Anger, is appropriate—it is a dance, a relentless two-step in which one can never improvise, or fling oneself into the cosmic polka with abandon.

Glad abandon: those old sucker words still get me, with all their self-deception. With Steve, what palls is precisely what drew me to him in the first place—the masculine control. But such sly control, that never really takes control . . . .

Of course, when people argue so hopelessly and for so long about such small things, the argument is really about something else. Control, I guess. If what we hate in others is our own shadow, then it’s I who am conflicted over control. I want to give myself (with glad abandon), but I’m afraid to do so. Afraid I’ll be summarily shaken and my slumber dissipated—as by my mother when I was an infant.

Do the deep traumas inside us ever heal?

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A thought re: my trip to Russia, why it was so painful:

Travelers in foreign lands experience a curious duality: their skin becomes simultaneously transparent and impermeable. To those in whose midst they walk, all their inner mechanisms are exposed, like clocks whose faces are removed. But for the tourist, there is the experience of extreme frustration, as one seeks to connect to foreigners, and finds one’s thoughts cannot pass thick membranes of language and custom, of one’s own skin.

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